“Stay focused” is the message coach Bryan Harsin is delivering as No. 25 Auburn began preparations to host Alabama State on Saturday.
The Tigers (1-0) began the season with a 60-10 romp over Akron.
“Making sure our preparation, the things we have learned from the week before, how we did things, the game obviously that we played in, how we translate that into this week and the type of improvements that we make from what we did last week,” Harsin said. “So, that’s on staff, that’s on players, that’s on everybody in this building and being focused on that.
“So that’s certainly where our head’s at.”
Auburn squeaked into the national rankings at No. 25 after being unranked in the preseason Associated Press poll. The Tigers had received 32 votes in the preseason, but earned 83 after routing the Zips.
As they were against Akron, the Tigers figure to be prohibitive favorites against the Hornets (1-0). Alabama State needed overtime last week for a 14-13 win over Miles College, an NCAA Division II program.
The Hornets do have some advantages from playing a spring schedule because of COVID-19 protocols for FCS programs. Quarterback Ryan Nettles was a finalist last spring for the Jerry Rice Award that goes to the top freshman at the FCS level. He was 20 of 30 passing for 197 yards against Miles.
For Auburn, quarterback Bo Nix set a school record for completion percentage in a game with a minimum 20 attempts by connecting on 20 of his 22 attempts (90. 9 percent), far over the junior’s previous best of 76.7 percent. He finished with 275 passing yards and three touchdowns.
“Our guys did a great job of getting open today,” Nix said. “Our coaches put us in a great situation to succeed.”
Nix also rushed for 32 yards on just three carries. As a team, the Tigers amassed 612 yards in total offense. The Tigers’ production was split nearly 50-50 with 315 yards rushing, 297 passing.
“There was good balance as far as not just the run game, but in the run game just where we were hitting it,” Harsin said. “I thought as far as throwing the ball, Bo did a good job. We had some good concepts that we have been working, and he executed those well.”
The Tigers also didn’t have a turnover. That’s something that hampered the Hornets, who lost two of three fumbles in their win over Miles.
“It seemed like every time we got into a positive situation, we ended up turning the ball over or went through a spur of mistakes,” Alabama State coach Donald Hill-Eley said. “But that will get corrected next week.”
–Field Level Media